“Moved by Steam” by Richard Inwood and Mike Smith

Published by Silver Link Publishing Ltd in 2009, this excellent book is made up of the personal reflections of the two authors on their memories of following steam as teenagers in the years 1962 to 1967. [1] This was a particularly poignant time in the life of Britain’s railways as the Modernisation Plan saw the relatively rapid demise of steam power.

In his forward to the book, Davis St. John Thomas says: ‘Here is a book with that tingle factor to bring memories flooding back to those old enough to remember the colourful last days of steam’. [1: p7]

I picked up a signed secondhand copy of this book and its sequel, ‘Steam Tracked Back’ online during the second lockdown in 2020. I had just written an article about clergy and railways [2] and was encouraged by someone who read the article to purchase these two volumes. The signed copies were a real bonus.

I mention the article about clergy and railways because one of the authors of these volumes was a retired member of the clergy. Bishop Richard Inwood was Suffragan Bishop of Bedford in St. Alban’s Diocese until his retirement and lived, in retirement in Chesterfield.

His obituary, carried by the Church Times in May 2019 [3] mentions his co-authorship of books on railways during his time as a Suffragan. It also highlights parallel with my own experiences. Like him: I taught for a short time in Uganda; attended Holy Trinity, Platt in Rusholme, Manchester; studied at St. John’s College, Nottingham. My time working for the Church of England as a parish priest and first Area Dean then Borough Dean did not mirror in anyway his later career as Archdeacon and then Suffragan Bishop.

I marvel at his capacity to write books about his love of the railways alongside sustaining a demanding ministry as a Bishop.

In the days before the end of steam on mainline duties on the railways of Britain, Richard Inwood and Mike Smith developed from trainspotters into railway photographers. They first met as schoolboys at the beginning of the 1960s. Subsequently, as members of their school’s Locospotters’ Club, they attempted to record as much British steam as possible in its last years, from Derbyshire to Dorset, from Oxford to Oxenholme.

This volume charts their growing desire to follow what was left of steam as it was being withdrawn across the whole rail network. It is a deeply personal account  which ‘brings to life some of the excitement tinged with sadness of those times’. [1: p7] It is supplemented by some great photographs of the railways around Burton-on-Trent and further afield. Each of these photos is carefully annotated

I was delighted to find a few pictures of the line between Hereford and Gloucester, and particularly one photograph taken at the Aylestone Hill end of Hereford Barrscourt Station. My modelling interest centres on the City of Hereford and its railways. [4]

As an aside, I read this volume very soon after I read ‘Platform Souls’ by Nicholas Whittaker to which also comes out of a teenage spent trainspotting in Burton-on-Trent!

References

  1. Richard Inwood & Mike Smith; Moved By Steam; Silver Link Publishing Ltd., Kettering, Northants, 2009.
  2. https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/11/14/clergy-and-railways, published on 14th November 2020.
  3. https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/17-may/gazette/obituaries/obituary-the-rt-revd-richard-inwood, accessed on 10th December 2020.
  4. https://rogerfarnworth.com/category/railways-blog/model-railway – the articles on this page are substantially about the model that I have been creating in the vicarage loft. The first article is a general comment on the use of N Gauge (2mm to the foot) as a modelling scale. The remainder focus on Hereford.
  5. Nicholas Whittaker; Platform Souls; Orion, London, 1995 (Revised Edition, 2015).

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